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Friday, March 30, 2007

All talk and no action

As we've noted before EU government's refusal to stop spending tax payers money supporting business ventures in Iran - let alone agree to more general economic sanctions - is helping the mullahs continue to defy the international community.

Since the 15 British sailors and marines were kidnapped last week the British government has been attempting to use its diplomatic influence to ratchet up the pressure on Tehran. Unfortunately they are not doing too well. The UN Security Council issued a watered down communication yesterday which stopped well short of demanding the release of the sailors and instead spoke of their "grave concern" about the situation.

Now Reuters tells us that EU Foreign Ministers - meeting in Bremen today - will back Britain: as long as they don't actually have to do anything about it.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, "It is clear that a message of solidarity with Great Britain must be sent from here".

But EU countries have rejected British requests to stop doing business with Iran. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told RTL radio this morning, "We must avert a course towards confrontation, any escalation. The Iranian authorities must simply return to dialogue."

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told Deutschlandfunk radio: "While we are in complete solidarity with Britain, we have to do everything to build in the necessary brakes so that things don't explode. We have to be careful that we don't go on outbidding each other with sanctions on Iran and talk of freezing relations".

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